Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Christian Strategy

From First Things:
Late-stage liberalism, which calls itself “progressive,” embodies a distinctive secularized soteriology and eschatology. Progressive liberalism has its own cruel sacraments—especially the shaming and, where possible, legal punishment of the intolerant or illiberal—and its own liturgy, the Festival of Reason, the ever-repeated overcoming of the darkness of reaction. Because the celebration of the festival essentially requires, as part of its liturgical script, a reactionary enemy to be overcome, liberalism ceaselessly and restlessly searches out new villains to play their assigned part. Thus the boundaries of progressive demands for conformity are structurally unstable, fluid, and ever shifting, not merely contingently so—there can be no lasting peace. Yesterday the frontier was divorce, contraception, and abortion; then it became same-sex marriage; today it is transgenderism; tomorrow it may be polygamy, consensual adult incest, or who knows what. The uncertainty is itself the point. From the liberal standpoint, the essential thing is that the new issue provokes opposition from the forces of reaction, who may then be conquered in a public and dramatic fashion by the political mobilization of liberal forces.

There are two ways of understanding this dynamic. One is that in the long run, liberalism undermines itself by transforming tolerance into increasingly radical intolerance of the “intolerant”—meaning those who hold illiberal views. On this view, militant progressivism is distinct from liberalism, indeed a betrayal of it. Such an account would make liberalism analogous to Marx’s claim about capitalism: Liberalism is inherently unstable and is structurally disposed to generate the very forces that destroy it. (Read more.)

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